Last Friday my roommate Chen, having an affinity for trains booked a whole car on one of the trains from Main Kaohsiung station up to Taipei. A whole caboose car: with three compartments, a small section of normal seats, a dining car with a bar and a lounge with open space and cushy chairs and a small balcony overlooking the tracks in the back.
The dining car quickly established itself as an amateurs gambling room with card games. The lounge became a dance floor, favored by the smokers because of the easy access to the balcony.
Pulling into the station in Taipei at 6 a.m. most of the party headed to a nearby hot springs to soak and recalibrate our internal clocks. However, I didn’t anticipate the nakedness of the hot springs we attended.
I have soaked in many hot springs over here in Taiwan, up north in Tainan and down south in Pingtung. This was my first nude hot springs experience, and the only thing questionable about it was the way it had separated sexes so you couldn’t talk to all of your friends.
On Monday night it is hard to convince anyone to get off the couch, but with the assistance of my stalwart roommates I ventured to Jin-Zuan Night Market. Kai-Xuan, as someone was kind to point out is the largest night market, then Jin-Zuan is the second largest Kaohsiung night market right next door selling pretty much the same experience.
Here you can play darts and by hitting the balloons. If you hit enough you are eligible for an additional prize of a stuffed animal displayed nearby.
Meanwhile at the fishing pond several young mothers “catch” fish with well bundled children. The temperature here in the winter is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius.)
Above is a hot pot station. Many Taiwanese apartments have minimalist kitchens and I think this is one reason there are many popular restaurant options to cook your own meal. At hot pot the server will bring you your broth and you can request the meat, seafood, vegetables or mushrooms you would like to put in.
A small gambling table, it looks like mahjong tiles but I am still unfamiliar with many of the gambling options.
On the left is a woman working at a fruit milk stand. In Taiwan there are many options to flavor your milk with watermelon, papaya, strawberries or apple juice. My personal favorite is the avocado milk where they add custard to make it even more creamy and decadent. On the right a couple is throwing rings, in the event one goes over a bottle they can pick a prize in that line of bottles.
The stalls stretch on for about a city block, but not all of them are open to all hours. By ten o’clock in the evening many of the clothing and food stalls will have shut down for the night.
After being here six months I am finally attending live music on a more frequent basis, with an influx of concerts in the next few weeks.
Last week, I attended a concert at The Mercury (高雄市左營區立 路46號, Kaohsiung, Taiwan) with a three-band lineup including the Taipei band FLUX, an Australian band and the local Kaohsiung band, Forests.
This is only one of the three major venues in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. The other two are ROCKS and Pier Two: The Wall, according to expat and music patron, Roberto.
This March there is a series of movie music classical concerts happening up at the Kaohsiung Museum, sitting by the lake. Following the Ides of March on the 19th, two members of the Wu Tang Clan are visiting Taipei, RAEKWON & GHOSTFACE KILLAH!